Frog Tadpole Plus Balance Bike Review

The Frog Tadpole Plus is one of the few mid-sized balance bike offerings on the market. With 14″ wheels and a larger frame, this lightweight bike is ideally proportioned for older toddlers who are starting their two wheeled adventures around age 3.

Boasting an exceptional build quality, air tires, a hand brake, and a true headset, the Frog Tadpole Plus doesn’t come cheap, but will give your child’s balance bike journey as smooth a start as possible. Read our full review below to discover if it’s the right choice for your future rider.

Toddler boy riding down sidewalk on Frog Tadpole Plus

Frog Tadpole Plus Overview

RATING: Exceptional

MSRP: $330

BEST FOR: Older toddlers who are starting their balance bike journey a little later

SEAT HEIGHT: 15″ – 18.6″

WEIGHT: 9.2 lb.

ADDITIONAL SPECIFICATIONS
BRAKES: Rear hand brake, Tektro v-pull
TIRES: Air 14″x1.75″
FRAME: Aluminum Alloy
FOOTREST: No
BOLTS: Rounded
TURNING LIMITER: Yes (internal)

PROS:

  • Perfectly proportioned for older toddlers
  • Cushioning air tires provide solid traction on pavement and packed dirt
  • Lightweight aluminum frame and lightweight components enhance maneuverability
  • Soft grips

CONS:

  • Limited seat height range, but a great fit within that range
  • Rear brake does a great job slowing the bike, but not stopping it quickly

Frog Tadpole Plus Review – Results of our Test Rides

3 year old boy riding Frog Tadpole Plus balance bike on the sidewalk

We tested the Frog Tadpole Plus with five toddlers ages 3 and 4, ranging in height from 37.75″ to 43″. Having tested over a hundred balance bikes over the last 14 years, we’ve seen our fair share of winners and losers. This larger Frog balance bike was a standout winner, and quickly became the balance bike of choice for our primary test rider.

3 year old girl racing down sidewalk on Frog Tadpole Plus balance bike

Sizing – What size child fits on the Frog Tadpole Plus?

Frog offers three different balance bikes, which are each a different size. The Tadpole Mini is the smallest with 10″ wheels, the Tadpole is average sized with 12″ wheels, and the Tadpole Plus is their largest offering with 14″ wheels.

With those 14″ wheels also comes a slightly larger frame to provide sufficient space for taller toddlers and preschoolers maneuver their balance bike comfortably, as well as a taller seat height range – from 15″ to 18.6″.

This mid-sized balance bike offered a comfortable fit for our kid testers on the smallest and tallest end of that seat height range. Below you can see our 37.75″ (with shoes on) test rider with the seat set to its lowest point at 15″. On the right, our 43″ tall rider has the seat set to its maximum of 18.6″.

37.75″ Tall Rider vs. 43″ Tall Rider

Collage showing two riders on the Frog Tadpole Plus. On the left, a small rider with the seat height at its minimum point. On the right, a tall rider with the seat height set to its max.

If your child is starting their balance bike journey a little later (as a 3 or 4 year old), they can usually still fit on a more affordable 12″ balance bike, but they will outgrow it much more quickly, and the riding experience will be less than ideal.

Here you can see how our 40.4″ tall (with shoes on) tester fits on the 14″ Frog Tadpole Plus vs. the smaller 12″ Guardian balance bike. She has much more room to stretch out on the Frog, and her arms are angled for more natural steering. She has the seat height set to 17.2″ on the Frog.

40.4″ Tall Rider on 14″ Frog Tadpole Plus vs. 12″ Guardian

Collage showing 3 year old riding Frog Tadpole Plus and Guardian balance bikes. She is a much better fit on the larger Frog.

To determine if your child will be a good fit on the Frog Tadpole Plus, the best method is always to measure your child’s inseam. The balance bike’s seat should be seat about 0.5″ below that inseam. So for this bike with a minimum seat height of 15″, you’d want your child’s inseam to be at least 15.5″.

How long will my child fit on the Frog Tadpole?

Some balance bikes, particularly the popular Strider, come with really long seat posts that extend the life of the bike by several years. For example, the Strider Sport has a seat height range of 11″ – 19″! While 8″ of growth is great in theory, the Strider is a pretty cramped ride for a child on the high end of this range.

For the larger Strider 14x, which has a seat height range of 15″ – 22″ (7″ range), it’s a lot of bike to handle for kids on the lower end of the range.

So while the Frog Tadpole Plus only has a 3.6″ range (15″ – 18.6″) it’s a great fit on both the low and high end. So less room for growth than either of the Strider bikes, but more precisely designed for the best fit experience. (The woom 1 Plus has a very similar seat height range of 14.8″ – 18.5″.)

Balance bikes that have adjustable-height handlebars allow the bars to be raised along with the saddle as a child gets taller. While the Tadpole Plus doesn’t have that feature, it does have a mid-rise handlebar that can be rotated towards or away from the rider to make minor modifications to the reach.

Because the Frog Tadpole Plus has a more moderate seat height range (3.6″), we found that rotating the handlebars was sufficient to dial in a good fit for our smaller and taller riders.

One important sizing benefit of a larger balance bike like the Frog Tadpole Plus is that by the time a child outgrows it, they can transition directly to a 16″ pedal bike, skipping past the 14″ pedal bike. A child generally outgrows a 14″ pedal bike faster than any other bike size, so you can save yourself some money here and go directly to the 16″ pedal bike.

Frog Tadpole Plus Components Round-up

The Frog Tadpole Plus is one of the more expensive balance bikes on the market, in large part because it boasts high-quality components. This balance bike is designed to last for many years and through many kids, or to be resold for a solid price.

Lightweight Aluminum Frame

3 year old boy picking up the Frog Tadpole Plus

Once you add it air tires and a handbrake, it’s hard to keep a balance bike lightweight. But at 9.2 pounds, the Tadpole Plus is very lightweight for its size. The Strider 14x, which doesn’t even have a handbrake, is over 3 pounds heavier at 12.5 pounds. The woom 1 Plus has dual handbrakes and is only slightly heavier at 9.5 pounds. The Ridgeback Scoot has smaller 12″ wheels but weighs in at 10.5 pounds.

A lightweight balance bike is easier for kids to maneuver, and requires less effort to propel forward. Kids are frequently setting their balance bikes down to look for rocks and ladybugs, and then picking them up again. They will often raise their bike underneath them to lift it up stairs or over a curb, or to turn it around and head in a different direction.

The Frog Tadpole Plus’ lightweight aluminum frame and complementary components allows kids to be completely independent with their balance bike, without a parent needing to rush over to lend them muscle.

Air Tires Provide Traction and Cushioning

Front wheel and tire of Frog Tadpole Plus, showing smooth tire tread

While many 12″ balance bikes feature simple foam tires, 14″ balance bikes almost always have air tires. Foam tires will never go flat, but air tires provide cushioning and enhanced traction that increase the comfort and safety of the ride.

The metal rims on air tires are more durable than the plastic rims found on foam tires, while also allowing for a v-pull brake to be added to the rear wheel.

Your child will appreciate the give in the air tire when going over curbs, or simply over larger cracks in the sidewalk. The traction of rubber tires is most helpful on slick surfaces like indoor wood floors, and if your child ventures off into non-paved surfaces like dirt or grass.

Child riding over sidewalk curb on Frog Tadpole balance bike

The smooth street tread on the Tadpole Plus won’t provide as much off-road traction as knobbier tires found on the woom 1 Plus or the Ridegback Scoot, but if you love this bike and need knobbier tires for regular dirt rides, you can easily replace them. The standard tires on this bike are 14″ x1.75″.

Rear Wheel Tektro V-Brake

Tektro brake calipers on rear wheel of 14" Frog balance bike

When first riding a balance bike, kids will use their feet to stop. But as kids get to 2.5 and 3-years-old, they develop the coordination to use a handbrake. Because this is a larger balance bike, most kids will be that age when they start riding it, and will be able to use the handbrake for the entire life of the bike.

While not technically necessary (the Strider 14x doesn’t have a brake), a child can brake faster and with more control with a high-quality v-brake than with their feet. You also won’t have to replace their shoes as often! And once they master the hand brake on a balance bike, it just makes the transition to a pedal bike that much easier.

As older kids have the strength to ride faster, we believe that the power of a handbrake is a huge safety and confidence benefit on a 14″ balance bike. This brake lever has a short reach for small hands to easily engage.

3 year old grabbing short reach Tektro brake lever on Frog Tadpole Plus

Out of the box, our brake was not adjusted well and only slowed the bike rather than stopping it. We recommend having your child test out the brake at slow speeds first. If the bike doesn’t stop pretty immediately once they pull the brake lever, you may need to make a small adjustment to the tension of the brake cable.

Once we tweaked that, our brake had better stopping power, but still not what we would expect from a Tektro v-brake. It certainly helps to slow the bike, which is a nice benefit, but we could not get it to stop quickly like we’ve experienced with other high-end balance bikes.

True Headset Keeps Handlebars Aligned

Threadless headset on Frog 14" balance bike

The Frog Tadpole Plus has a true headset that keeps the handlebars securely aligned to the fork. When your child crashes on their balance bike, the handlebars won’t get knocked out of place, as is common on cheaper balance bikes like the Strider Sport. More expensive balance bikes will almost certainly have a true headset similar to this.

Turning Limiter is Helpful, Not Removable

Turning limiters on balance bikes (and also on small pedal bikes) limit the range of motion of the handlebars, which offers two potential benefits:

  1. Kids often get their handlebars twisted and accidentally try to ride with them backward. This is awkward for them, and would also affect their ability to use the hand brake. Twisting the handlebars too far can stretch and damage the brake cables.
  2. Limiting how far a child can turn the bars to the right or left can prevent them from jerking their bars too far in one direction and crashing. This mostly applies to novice riders who are still learning to steer and who are more likely to make sudden jerking movements.

There is a new trend with removable turning limiters, but the steering limiter is integrated inside the Tadpole Plus and cannot be removed. We don’t mind this, because in our experience, the benefit of never twisting the brake cables on accident outweighs any potential benefit of taking it off.

Child Sized, Cushioned Saddle

A narrow saddle allows a child to sit and execute a comfortable running stride without being forced to splay their legs out wider than is natural. The Frog Tadpole Plus’ small saddle is also nicely padded to increase comfort even more.

Saddle of Frog Tadpole Plus shown from the side and from the top

This saddle is railed, which is a nice perk you usually don’t find on a balance bike. It allows you to move the saddle forward or backward to make micro adjustments for your child’s comfort. For example, if your child has a longer torso, you may want to try moving the saddle back.

Minimal Assembly

There is basically no assembly required on this balance bike, but you should make sure the handlebars are aligned with the front wheel, and check and tighten all bolts. As mentioned previously we did have to make an adjustment to the brake cable.

Frog Tadpole Plus Balance Bike Comparison

Compared to other balance bikes in the same size range, the Frog Tadpole Plus is the most expensive, but is also the most lightweight. Between the woom 1 Plus and the Tadpole Plus, why would you pay an extra $30 for the Frog?

The woom 1 Plus has much taller and wider handlebars, which are pretty high for kids on the lower sizing range of the bike. While certainly not a deal breaker, the lower and slightly more narrow handlebars of the Frog Tadpole Plus are easier to manage for smaller kids, and also allow kids to get more aggressive as they gain confidence.

Frog Tadpole Pluswoom 1 Plus Strider 14xRidgeback Scoot
MSRP$330$299$209$289
Seat Height15″ – 18.6″14.8″ – 18.5″15″ – 22″14″ – 20″
Weight9.2 lb.9.5 lb.12.5 lb.10.5 lb.
TiresStreetAll-terrainStreetStreet
BrakesSingle v-brakeDual v-brakeNoneSingle v-brake

Frog Tadpole Plus Balance Bike – Bottom Line

For 3 year olds who would benefit from a larger balance bike specifically designed with their body size in mind, the Frog Tadpole Plus is an exceptional option. Add on the lightweight aluminum frame that makes acceleration easier, air tires that provide comfy cushioning and safer traction, and overall high quality and durability, and you’ve got yourself a great investment.

To see our list of favorite balance bikes for all ages, check out our 12 Best Balance Bikes list.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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